By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 2, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
When the global financial crisis sent economies around the world into a tailspin, officials from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP insisted that the country would remain unaffected. One of the reasons appeared to be a simple refusal to acknowledge that anything negative could happen to the Turkish economy while the AKP was in government. Another seems to have been a reluctance to introduce austerity measures in the run-up to the local elections of March 29, 2009. There is a danger that the combination of pride and political short-termism could both deepen the impending economic recession in Turkey and threaten the social and political fabric of the country.
By Tülin Daloğlu (vol. 2, no. 4 of the Turkey Analyst)
On February 16, Turkey's largest media company, the Dogan Media Group, was fined nearly $500 million for an alleged late tax payment. Tax laws are complicated, and the exact circumstances of the matter are unclear. The troubling point is that this follows on five months of public bullying of the Dogan group by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Since September, he has repeatedly asked his followers to boycott DMG's newspapers. The tax investigation into the Dogan group, moreover, began only a few weeks after the opening of a court case to close the governing AKP. Erdogan argues that the tax case is a matter not of press freedom but of tax evasion, yet the fine can hardly be defended as "business as usual."
By M. K. Kaya and Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 2, no. 3 of the Turkey Analyst)
The upcoming local elections in Turkey will be a test of whether the ruling Justice and development party (AKP) can be successfully challenged by the opposition; indeed, of whether there is any viable opposition left to speak of. As they try to navigate in a political landscape increasingly dominated by Islamic conservatism, both the leftist Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the right-wing Nationalist Action Party, MHP, are seeking ways to reinvent themselves, hoping to appeal to a broader electorate. The efforts are beset by ideological contradictions and ambiguities, but MHP is best placed to challenge the AKP.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 2, no. 1 of the Turkey Analyst)
As the investigation into the alleged Ergenekon conspiracy continues unabated, the polarization of Turkish society deepens. According to one interpretation of the unfolding drama, a mortal threat to democracy has been averted by the prosecutors. The opposing narrative holds that a “republic of fear”, intolerant of political dissent, is being instituted. In the final analysis, one interpretation does not exclude the other.
By M. K. Kaya (vol. 2, no. 1 of the Turkey Analyst)
The unexpectedly harsh Turkish reaction to the Israeli offensive in Gaza has raised many eyebrows, given the implications of a shift in Turkey’s foreign policy. It remains unclear to what extent Prime Minister Erdogan’s rhetoric is related to a growing sense of Islamic solidarity underpinning Turkish foreign policy, and how much can be related simply to the upcoming local elections, where Erdogan is anxious not to be outflanked by the growing, rival Islamist Felicity party. In any case, the event – and the growing emotional character of Turkish leaders’ behavior – is an indicator of the shifting decision-making structure in Turkish foreign policy, whereby the traditional foreign policy establishment is being marginalized in favor of the Prime Minister’s own inner cabinet.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.